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Passport & Plate - Catalan Black Rice - a storytelling series

Spain | Thursday, 13 March 2014 | 5 photos

Alioli (to be prepared first and allowed to chill)

2 cloves of garlic
300 ml of virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
The freshly squeezed juice of one lemon.

Mince the garlic into a large bowl along with the mustard and lemon and slowly add the olive oil while whisking vigorously until it attains the appearance and consistency of mayonnaise. It is very important to take your time adding the oil.

When ready put into a small bowl and refrigerate for serving with the finished dish.

Fish Stock:

- ½ head of monkfish
- 1 leek
- 1 carrot
- 1 onion
- salt.

Black Rice

Ingredients (serves 4)

- 2 big onions
- 2 leeks
- 2 big cloves of strong garlic
- 4 big ripe vine tomatoes
- 2 tbsp. of finely chopped parsley
- The ink of two cuttlefish
- Olive Oil
- 2 liters of the fish stock
- 4 medium size prawns
- 10 clams
- 600g of cleaned squid
- 400 grams of round rice
- Salt


How to prepare this recipe
Black Rice:

1.In a large saucepan place the cleaned monkfish head, and the diced vegetables. Cover with 3 liters of water, add pinch of salt and bring to boil. Skim away any white scum that forms with a ladle and boil for maximum 30 minutes. Strain away all the ingredients until you’re left with the fish stock.

2.Peel and cut the onions, leeks and one garlic clove. Cover the surface of a large flat pan with olive oil. On a low heat, fry off the vegetables until tender and lightly brown colored. Add some salt and the tomatoes diced small, the bunch of parsley and the squids.

3.When all the liquid from the squids and the tomatoes are nearly dissolved add the cuttlefish ink and the 2 liters of the fish stock from step 1. The liquid reduces to half of its volume.

4.Separate the ingredients: Strain the black liquid in a big bowl, pick the squids out and keep them in a separate bowl, likewise with your remaining vegetables keep them in a spate bowl for adding later.

5.On your big pan, which should be wiped clean for this stage heat some olive oil. Gently fry the remaining garlic clove until it starts to brown. Lower the heat, add the rice and fry off for a minute. Add some of the black liquid you have kept aside and stir, when it gets absorbed by the rice, add more. Repeat these stages until the rice begins to soften. Add the vegetables you kept aside and stir well. Next add the squids to the pan and keep on adding liquid until you get the desired rice texture. This can could take fifteen to twenty minutes depending on the heat, pan, type of rice etc. Just keep on stirring and taste to see. Add more salt if necessary.

6. Clean the prawns but leave the tail on. In a separate pan quickly fry the shrimps in olive oil on a high heat with a few pinches of salt. Calculate around 2 minutes per side.

7. Plate up the rice and on a large flat plate and place the shrimps on top.

You should serve the alioli separately for mixing it as taste requires


The story behind this recipe
It’s not recently that I became a food lover. I come from Belém, beside the rainforest, which is a city that has one of the most exotic cuisines in the world. When we get together is seldom just eating, we enjoy the ritual: the whole family together, delicious dishes, long talks, good wine and love. In the end, it’s all about love – for people, for food, for the places we sit while enjoying both. This is the same love I bring with me with me wherever I go.
I always say that the best way to know a city’s culture is by visiting its main market: by observing people’s relationship with the food, you can really begin to learn about their culture.
When I came to live in Barcelona, Boqueria Market was my first of the list. When I passed through the superb modernist style entrance, I took a deep breath and stopped for a moment, before choosing where to start. It was organised chaos: Fresh fruits, vegetables, huge hams, cured meats of every variety, and people, loads of people. The thing that struck me most though was the seafood…wow! I didn't know half these fish even existed; some of them amazingly beautiful, others hideously ugly. During the hours I was there, I tried to imagine how many unusual dishes people could do with all these “things”. I knew that my life here was never going to be the same. I started a food & art journey, searching for flavors, colors, history, love and passion.
That same night, I went to El4gats for its history, not for its gastronomy. Picasso used to go to there when he was young – his first exhibition was there! There was a guy playing jazz and I decide to try, finally, the Catalan black rice.
It came gorgeously black, hypnotizing me with the smell. When I think about that moment I use to imagine it in slow motion; it was love at first sight (or spoon, if you prefer). Not only the plate was looking stunning, but also the taste was fantastic. This black rice changed my life, making my heart beat faster when it comes, and I always look for it.

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